If you’ve enjoyed yourself at any of the art events in Franklinton over the past few years (Urban Scrawl, Go West or anything held at 400 West Rich Street) then you have Sara Adrian to thank for playing a role in organizing these events. When she’s not working on curating shows and organizing festivals, Sara pours her energy into producing her own painting and illustration work. Tomorrow she’s producing the large Mardi Gras festival at 400, so we thought it was a good time to catch up with this local artist and find out more about her.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your background as it relates to being an artist?
A: Well, I was born in Columbus and raised in Worthington. What was integral I think to me becoming an artist is that as a child I was diagnosed as having a learning disability, as well as having developmental problems, and I was also diagnosed with acute severe depression — all around the age of seven. I was educated with kids who were severely mentally or physically handicapped for a few hours a day to study math and english, the rest was spent in school with the regular kids. I know it sounds severe but they didn’t know what else to do with me.
I became extremely withdrawn and isolated, I was that weird kid that didn’t talk much. It was also at this time I began to draw, and I found that I was able to not only entertain myself with the characters I created but I got a lot of positive attention from it. As I got older I was moved out of the developmentally challenged classroom and with a private tutor, and this lasted up until middle school which is where I first heard about the Fort Hayes High School for the arts. As a sophomore in Worthington High School I applied and got accepted to the Commercial Art program. My dream was to become a Disney animator. I did well enough there to apply and get a scholarship at CCAD.
It was during college where I learned I don’t have the right temperament to be an illustrator. I like to tell my own stories. I also developed a fascination with mythology and folklore. I learned about all these weird sub-sciences that used visual art to carry their ideas, like alchemy painting for example. I love the idea that this image can be created that may look interesting but kinda weird to one person, but yet have a completely readable message based off of the symbols or colors or gestures in the image. I fortunately outgrew the problems I had as a kid, but those experiences I had growing up have a lot to do with the artist I am now. I like to take something that may be seen or assumed and flip it or change it until maybe you see something else.
Much of my work is portraiture in a way (I usually don’t use models, so I can’t really call them portraits). I don’t like to say it but it’s true that they are often reflective of some inner thought or emotion, so along with what may be symbolic in color or gesture my work is usually expressionistic. My theory is, although the individual experiences I have are unique the common themes of expression are not. Myths and fairy tales are often allegories of the human experience, and my work can be considered a snap shot of those experiences (for more info, look into the writings of Joseph Campbell, he goes into great depth about this topic). So basically, I grew up a little weird and because of that I enjoy making stuff.
Q: Can you tell us about the mediums you work with, and how you select between those mediums when you produce new work?
A: I paint, draw, and create digital giclee prints. I have a long standing interest in iconic painting and portraiture, especially Roman encaustic painting, Byzantine icons & medieval icons. I like the look of paint on wood, so I typically paint in acrylic, oil, or gouache on gessoed birch panels. Preferably I want the wood grain to show through, I want the viewer to be aware of the material the painting is on. Which paint I choose depends on the color I’m going for, and what I feel like using. Oils take a long time but the color saturation can really pop, gouache for me tends to get more graphic with much less blending, and acrylic for me is kind of a mix of the two, plus it dries much faster than oil. Currently I’m painting in acrylic mostly. Sometimes in my paintings I’ll use metallics such as gold, silver, or copper leafing, I like to have my work interact with environment a little bit.
The digital prints are created by drawing one or several separate images and then scanned into Photoshop. Sometimes I play with the values to bring out the texture of the paper and the rippling of the paper and leave it at that, but typically I clean up the lines and then bring the image over to Illustrator and convert it to a vector image. The advantage of working in vector is I can enlarge or shrink the image to any size without distortion, and it makes it easier for me to edit or change the image. I will then bring it back over to photoshop and add in textures that are either scanned or created. The image is worked over until I am satisfied, and then I send it off to be printed on acid free watercolor paper with archival inks.
Q: You’ve curated quite a few local shows in addition to exhibiting work of your own. What draws you toward the curator side of the spectrum?
A: Frankly, I like to be a part of making things happen. Curating shows is a great way to meet people and make connections. I also find the experience useful in just understanding the business of art, and what goes into putting together a show. Besides, there’s a lot of unique talent in this town, if shows or events don’t happen then nobody is going to know about them. So if I see a chance for me to get involved in something that can be really great, I go for it because somebody has to.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your involvement with different local arts groups, such as CAW (Creative Arts of Women), 400 West Rich and others?
A: Well, the first board I was on was the Franklinton Arts District. While there I helped support them putting on Urban Scrawl, Go West, and just learning what it’s like to be on a board of an arts group. With CAW I co-curated ‘The Birds of Caw’ show with Helma Groot and have taken part in group shows with them. I had to end my involvement with FAD and haven’t been much involved with CAW as much recently because I’ve been focusing on my own work. I also have a full time day job as well as working as an artist so sometimes (more often than I would like) my budget with time is extremely tight, especially since my paintings take on average 30-40 hours to complete.
I still stay in touch with what’s going on in CAW and Franklinton when I can, and it was through my connections with FAD that I learned about the 400 West Rich Street projected when it was first starting to be renovated. Last September I decided to rent a studio there, because although working from home is cheaper, I wanted a space where I could interact with the public more, and have access to event space. Six or seven months later I’ve found myself involved in planning events there and putting together a gallery board to help facilitate shows and events in the gallery space. It’ll be interesting to see what will happen next there.
Q: Are there any upcoming opportunities for our readers to see your work displayed?
A: Well anyone can make an appointment with me to come and see my studio down at 400 West Rich St, Suite #115 (just email me at email@example.com), or you’re welcome to stop in and say hi during one of the events there. The next solo show I have scheduled is at Haiku at 800 North High Street during the month of October, and it will be all paintings. I’m sure I’ll be taking part in other shows through out the year. If anyone wants to stay updated on what I’m doing next, the easiest way is to become a fan of my facebook page.
Q: Do you have any other big plans for 2012?
A: Well, the big thing that’s happening right around the corner is the Mardi Gras (Columbus Style) event that I put together. I’ve never planned such a large scale event before, and it’s been a lot more fun than I thought it would be finding the performers and getting the various pieces in place to make what will hopefully be a kick ass event. There’s going to be pirates, belly dancers, fire performers and stilt walkers, an aerial dancer, Teen Fiction + DJ Adam Scoppa, Ann Glaviano, and Chris Johnson will be performing as well. Plus there will be a bonfire and a drum circle, a costume contest, and photographers will be there so you can have your portrait taken. Studio artists will be giving out beads, and the studios on the first floor will be open.
This event takes place at 400 West Rich St. February 25 from 8 to Midnight’ish. It’s 21 and up, BYOB, and we’re requesting a 5 dollar donation at the door to help support the performers and to help fund future events. More details can be found on the Facebook event page. I had a lot of help putting this on, and I gotta say I’m pretty stoked about it. If this turns out to be a success then who knows, maybe I’ll do it again!
More information can be found online at SaraAdrian.com.
Photo of Sara by Bill Minckler.